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October 29, 2008

Shorties (Bat-Manga!, Nick Jonas Interviews Elvis Costello, and more)

Publishers Weekly reviews Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, by Chip Kidd, which includes Japanese Batman comics from the 1960's.

Kuwata’s Gotham and Batman are far more “elemental” than I’ve ever encountered him before—particularly as something from the pre-Frank Miller age of Batman. This “Bat-a-man” (as my good friend Takahiro insists he is really called in Japan) fights Death, serpents, black magicians and mutant humans. Ok, that sounds comic book-y like it’s not scary. But it is. Scary as hell.

Time Out New York interviews Henry Rollins.

Speaking of children’s literature, what books would you recommend to the youngsters?

The Grapes of Wrath, believe it or not. I had a really fascinating conversation with Tom Steinbeck, his son, last week. Steinbeck basically got pushed out of his beloved home, California, because he was bring truth to power, in the form of his books. And his standing up for the workingman. You can see the rise of neoconservatism in the resistance he faced. People who hated the New Deal on Day One. Roosevelt got his ass kicked over the New Deal. People hated the idea of some of those reforms, much like Rush Limbaugh hates them now. The Grapes of Wrath was one of the most poignant reads of my young life, where I fell in love with literature. As a kid I got the humanity of it, and as an adult I now understand the political ramifications of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

The A.V. Club lists 23 interesting vampire variations.

Merge Records is taking pre-orders for its 2009 set of 14 compilation albums (curated by Jonathan Lethem, Alex Ross, Marjane Satrapi, Miranda July, and others).

Get ready for the winter holidays with DJ Riko's Christmas music mixes.

Daytrotter features Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzelay with an in-studio session.

At Rolling Stone, Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers interviews Elvis Costello.

NJ: In the last, like, 10 years, is there a pop record that you were surprised to have really liked?

EC: I always said the hardest thing in the world is to have a hit with a good song. I can think of lots of so-called contrived pop songs that are great. Motown was very calculated in the way they did things, but they had brilliant writers. And there are really beautiful melodies in Radiohead songs. Some people are frustrated because Radiohead won't make their records sound conventional. Most good music is like that. One record doesn't sound like the next one. The best things were made out of surprises.

The Village Voice gives They Might Be Giants' 1991 Flood album another listen.

They Might Be Giants (the Brooklyn duo of John Linnell and John Flansburgh) exemplified the McSweeney's/Daily Show aesthetic—arch, whimsical, erudite, hilarious, viciously smart, gleefully goofy—years before it actually existed, and eons before it was fully accepted.

Esopus 11 is out (mine hit the mailbox yesterday), and as always includes a stellar disc of unreleased songs by Shearwater, Wye Oak, The Muslims, Jenny Owens Young, and many more artists (stream the disc here).

Nextbook examines musicians who tackle the Holocaust as a subject.

The best results seem to come from those who acknowledge the weirdness of singing about the Holocaust while doing it earnestly anyway. An early example of this approach is “Dachau Blues,” from Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s 1969 album Trout Mask Replica. It helps that Beefheart keeps his lyrics oblique: “Sweet little children with doves on their shoulders/Eyes rolled back in ecstasy/ …They’re counting out the devil with two fingers on their hands.” More important, "Dachau Blues" isn’t a blues that B.B. King would readily acknowledge; Beefheart’s noise-jazz assemblage sounds like it’s trying methodically to get a blues started over and over again but can’t bring itself to do it; the means of expression just can’t be made to fit the subject. This helplessness feels right.

The Village Voice finds similarities between tourmates the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers.

But otherwise, parallels proliferate between the two bands, one based in Brooklyn by way of Minnesota, the other with corresponding footprints in Alabama and Georgia. Both Finn and Hood are veterans; both are hovering around 40. Each is on his second major (and more successful) band: the former debuting with Lifter Puller, the latter with Adam's House Cat, which, like the Truckers, also included fellow singer-songwriter Mike Cooley. As lyricists, Finn and Hood (and Cooley) are susceptible to narrative (though the Hold Steady seem less limited geographically, covering Minneapolis to Ybor City at least), while musically each believes in the redemptive guitar solo, a rare thing these days.

Macworld offers shopping tips to find cheap (and free) mp3s.

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne discusses the band's career with the Los Angeles Times' Pop & Hiss blog.

"Even Radiohead," continues Coyne, "as much as I like their last three or four records, I feel as though there’s a coloring and a shade that they sound like, and which they’ll probably move through time sounding like. I wish, sometimes, that we were as focused and grounded and identified like they are ... But we're just dorks. We're the Flaming Lips. We're never going to be Radiohead."

JamsBio lists 25 cartoon clad album covers "to blow your mind."

Mahshelf is a social network built around manga and comics.

Taste Kid recommends similar music, books, or movies based on your input.

Brian Williams of NBC News shares a music playlist for the countdown to the US presidential election.

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current has Friendly Fires in the studio for an interview and performance.

NPR's Monitor Mix suggests songs to play if your US presidential candidate of choice wins (or loses).

MTV has launched, which features over 16,000 music videos.

An example (the Breeders covering Guided By Voices' "Shocker in Gloomtown"):

The Breeders |MTV Music

also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases


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